Category Archives: Policy

State of the Union

I neither watched nor listened to George Bush give the State of the Union Address to Congress earlier this week (and apparently I wasn’t the only one), but it sounds like he floated a proposal that I think I could support.

The idea, as I understand it is to make the cost of health insurance tax deductible for people who have to pay their own premiums. This would be paid for by making employer plans over a certain amount taxable. I paid for my own insurance for 3-4 years, and it always pissed me off that my premiums weren’t tax deductible, while employer provided health plans were, effectively, an untaxed benefit. A step in the right direction.

On the other hand, his proposal to use more corn-derived ethanol as a gasoline substitute sucks. Corn derived ethanol is a shitty fuel. Corn is hard on farmland and takes a lot of other energy (much of it from greenhouse-gassy coal) to produce.

Corn is also food (an important constituent of everything from cola to cows), so the more corn that goes to fuel, the less will be available for food, which will push prices up. Actually, that may not be such a bad thing, considering how lardassed America is becoming (present company included).

On the other hand, sugar cane-derived ethanol looks like a decent fuel that would be carbon neutral since most of its energy inputs are renewable. Right now Brazil is the biggest producer of cane-derived ethanol, but even with the tariffs we levy, it’s competitive with corn-derived ethanol.